Members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs met in executive secession to consider the nomination of Mel Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which would ultimately grant him oversight of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Committee members voted and Watt’s nomination was affirmed and will be moved to the U.S. Senate floor for consideration. The Congressman received a 12-10 endorsement.
The decision to affirm President Obama’s nominee to lead the FHFA may resolve many issues about the uncertainty and legality of the agency and ultimately would present a win for Democrats who have supported the decision to solidify the nomination’s position.
With more than 40 years experience in the mortgage finance system, Watt supports the funding of social initiatives to develop housing opportunities — a philosophy that has kept some lawmakers skeptical of his nomination.
During his nomination hearing in June, Watt tiptoed around legislative questions, specifically principal forgiveness, something the director publicly supports.
Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Ida., showed his skepticism about Watt's ability to step into the FHFA's top role.
Nonetheless, there are advocates for the Watt’s confirmation, including industry coalitions as well as policymakers such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition urged the Senate to promptly confirm the congressman as FHFA director.
"Watt is highly qualified, holds an exemplary record as a public servant, and has the knowledge and expertise to be a strong leader for the agency," said NCRC president and CEO John Taylor.